A new CubeSat mission, sponsored by NASA and recently launched by the International Space Station, will examine the Milky Way Halo and help scientists gather more information about the missing matter from the universe
The Milky Way Halo is a halo-like region that surrounds the Milky Way. It helps to contain most of the mass of the galaxy, but scientists still do not have enough information about their shape and exact mass.
As the universe expanded and cooled, normal matter converted to various gases, dust, planets, stars, and galaxies. The CMB (Cosmic Microwave Background) estimates suggest that the universe consists of 5 percent protons, neutrons and other subatomic particles, 25 percent dark matter, and about 70 percent dark energy.
But when scientists decided to calculate the masses of all stars, planets, galaxies, etc., they saw that it was half of what it should be, according to most cosmologists. Philip Kaaret, HaloSat's principal investigator from the University of Iowa (UI), the mission's premier institute, said, "We should have all of today's matter that we had when the universe was 400,000 years old." Where is it going? this question can help us learn how to move from the unified state of the CMB to the large structures we see today. "
The research team believes that the missing material in the hot gas can be found in the space between galaxies or in the galactic halos that surround these galaxies. HaloSat will measure the X-rays produced by the electrons of the oxygen molecules of the halo due to its extremely high temperature.
While the other X-ray telescopes like NASA's neutron star, Interior Composition Explorer and the Chandra X-ray Observatory analyze independent sources by examining small areas of the sky, HaloSat will look at the whole sky, about 100 square degrees – and will help scientists to determine if the shape of the halo is more like a fried egg or a mirror
"If you think of the galactic halo in the fried egg model, you will have a different distribution of brightness if you look straight ahead of the earth than if you look at a larger angle, "explained Keith Jahoda. Who is HaloSat co-investigator and astrophysicist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland. "If it's in a quasi-spherical shape compared to the galaxy's dimensions, then it's expected to have more or less the same brightness in all directions."
Determining the shape of the halo will also help astronomers learn more about its mass and find out if the mass that is missing in the universe is present in the galactic halos or not.
The research team is excited about all the things HaloSat will discover in one of its first mission. "HaloSat has definitely shaped the way my future is going," said Hannah Gulick, who studies at the University of Iowa and works on the HaloSat mission. "I hope to be an astrophysicist who builds instruments and then uses the observations of these instruments to make his own discoveries."
Source: NASA / Goddard Space Flight Center